Schools have fundraisers all the time—a bake sale for football jerseys, a food drive for charity, etc. But there’s only one school that’s raising funds for its community greenhouse through an experimental musical performance starring TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe.
The parents of kids at P.S. 84 elementary school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn have come together to build the means for a project that they believe will benefit not only the students but the entire community. The ultimate goal is a “1,500 square ft rooftop greenhouse hydroponic classroom,” according to organizer and PS84 parent Diana Zelvin. “This will be a 21st-century sustainable urban farm that exposes students Pre-K through 5th grade to critical issues of global concern: climate change, efficient use of water and energy, building greener cities, and growing a secure and healthy food supply.”
Everard Findlay, also a parent and organizer, describes the purpose of the greenhouse: “The community is changing pretty fast, and there’s this balance between all these different cultures, but also the socio-economic stratosphere of people, and this school is a melting pot for that whole conversation with the neighborhood. So we’re trying to create a place where the kids can coexist and understand each other, because a community garden can be a really great start.”
To raise funds for the greenhouse, Findlay and the other organizers paired Adebimpe with artist Ivan Navarro, also a P.S. 84 parent, and Emergency Party‘s Bart Higgins to put on a concert on December 15th, the proceeds of which will go toward funding the greenhouse. Navarro has designed one-of-a-kind instruments to be played by the musicians for the show—kick drums refitted with fluorescent lights, regular, and two way mirrors, creating the illusion of staring into infinity when looking at the face of each drum. Reminiscent of Chul Hyun Ahn’s infinite light sculptures, these are the tools Tunde and Higgins will use to create sound.
Sculpture by Ivan Navarro.
“I’m going to have my normal, improvisational setup, which is a microphone running through a loop pedal and a couple of distortion pedals and what not,” explains Adebimpe, “And Bart’s going to be doing percussive sounds on Ivan’s sculptures. I actually don’t know what else he’s bringing. It’s going to be kind of a surprise. But, a lot of the sculptures have contact mics attached to them, so they’ll get the sounds of different densities of wood and metal being hit. They’re also going through Bart’s system of pedals. So, it’s largely improvisational.”
When asked to describe what this new project, dubbed OIDO by Navarro, would sound like compared to any of his previous work, Adebimpe reference a collaboration he did with Tall Firs drummer Ryan Sawyer. “Our philosophy with that group was to show up and just really be hyper and attentive in the moment. We’re just gonna narrate, you know? If there are more people in the room, suddenly it turns into a different thing. Are you calm, are you freaked out? Especially after playing in a band for so long where first you make a mess, and then you just build something from that mess that you can all listen to. After doing that for a number of years, I feel like it’s really good to make a mess again. I feel like it’s a really vital energy. It’s more like nature that way.”
Whatever it’s going to be, Adebimpe’s track record and Navarro’s visual creativity suggests that it’ll be a spectacle appealing to both the sonic and visual senses, and beyond the show, it will be helping the kids at PS84, and the members of their community in Brooklyn, build a new meeting place for the neighborhood.
Check out the details of the show below.